Apple’s first event of the year will be focused on education, and even though Apple have now moved into Apple Park, this event will be held offsite in a Chicago High School, but what should we expect to see announced?
iOS 11.3 has been in Beta for a little over 2 months now, and is probably Apple’s most feature packed point release to date. Here are the biggest features in this release.
AirPlay 2 comes with 2 major benefits over AirPlay 1, which are especially relevant if you own one or more HomePods. The first is to remove the 2 seconds latency when stream with AirPlay 1, the second is the ability to stream to multiple device simultaneously while keeping the audio in sync.
In iOS 11.3 you will now be able to check the health of your battery and disable CPU throttling, but by doing this you want to run the risk of your device suddenly shutting down and restarting.
Messages on iCloud
Messages in iCloud was originally meant to roll out in iOS 11.0 but then mysteriously disappeared! This feature syncs and stores you iMessage history in iCloud, which will free up space on your devices and hopefully mean the end of out of order and missing messages.
Rather than waiting for iOS 12 Apple is pushing out a significant update to a framework in a point release. The major enhancement in ARKit 1.5 is support for vertical planes, which should enable a whole host of apps.
Customers will now be able to chat with businesses (for customer support) through iMessage, rather than the current web based chat widget solutions that are no becoming common place on most websites. Although this sounds great, I’m not that optimistic that this will be readily adopted.
New Animoji characters … yeah I’m not using Animoji either.
iOS 11.3 is set to include a new Framework ClassKit which will allow apps to integrate better in the classroom environment, e.g. submitting assignments etc.
iOS 11.3 is also set to introduce a Classroom app, but we will have to wait and see what functionality this brings, but with it only appearing for iPads provisioned in educational settings it probably won’t be anything exciting for most users.
iBooks is set to get an update, or at least be renamed to Books at this event. Apple tried to reinvent the text book market before with iBooks and iBooks Author, so it will be interesting to see if Apple double down on this again.
The iWork suite of apps; Pages, Numbers and Keynote, have not seen a significant update (unless you count collaborative editing … and I'n not) for a few years now so they are all due an update. I would expect to see anything massive but at least update to support the formation ClassKit.
The Mac laptop line currently starts at $999 with the 13 inch MacBook Air, and although it received a number spec bumps over the years it is essentially the same design as it was in 2011. This means unlike the rest of Apple’s Laptop line up it has no Retina Screen, or USB-C, but thankfully for some, it still does retain the the old keyboard design.
The optimist in me would like to the see the MacBook Air removed from the line up and the MacBook/MacBook Pro reduced to $999 (even if it meant a spec reduction) but I think Apple will reduce the price of the MacBook Air, possibly with a spec reduction of its own to better suit the price conscious needs off the education market which is starting to be dominated by Chromebooks.
It is possible that Apple is throwing us a curve ball with the event invitation depicting a sketched Apple logo, but I would expect to see the base iPad model be updated to include support for the Apple Pencil. Apple Pencil support will be the only significant update to the iPad, possibly alongside a price drop, with the iPad Pro differentiating itself by reducing its bezels and adopting Face ID with an update of its own later in the year.
AirPower was unveiled last September in Apple’s Fall event, but its should finally be available to purchase after this event. Logically this also means the AirPods compatible case, but will we also see a refresh of the Apple Pencil to support AirPower?